Last summer, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy vowed to “obliterate” the street gang responsible for the shooting of two young girls playing in a Northwest Side park -- and several Chicago gangs are feeling the heat.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last week, an anonymous member of the Maniac Latin Disciples said their Northwest Side territory was like the "Bermuda Triangle" since the police crackdown.
"As long as you fly around it, you’re OK," the gang member told the paper. "But the minute you drive in there, you get sucked in [by the police.]”
While the gangs acknowledge the added pressure from police, it has not stopped their criminal enterprise. On Monday, the Sun-Times reported that gangs have begun sending youths into Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park to break into homes and take whatever cash, jewelry and electronic goods they can. They reportedly get more cash from the affluent communities, and the underage kids have not been thrown in jail.
When the Chicago Crime Commission released its latest "Gang Book" last month, it explained that Chicago gangs have been operating in the suburbs for decades, and the addicts who purchase their drugs in the suburban communities are just as likely to commit crimes to get their fix as the gang members themselves.
“This is a very complicated problem,” Jody Weis, president of the Chicago Crime Commission and former Chicago Police Superintendent said at the time. “Gangs have been around a very long time, and they’re not going away.”
NBC Chicago reports that graffiti has been spotted in 30 locations around Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, and Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said there has been a spike in gang activity since the Chicago crackdown. The demolition of public housing in Chicago has also moved some gang members into the 'burbs.
“They may reside in Oak Park. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re active in Oak Park as gang members," Oak Park Detective Cmdr. Ladon Reynolds told the Oak Leaves early this month. "I can tell you that we don’t have any areas in Oak Park that are controlled by gangs.”
As suburban department step up efforts to share information and get the gangs out of their communities, a Chicago police spokesperson told the Sun-Times it's common for gangs to try branching out.
“But simply pushing crime out — the bubble effect — is not what our goal is," Chicago Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton told the paper. "We work relentlessly to address conditions in the areas that gangs operate in to increase the safety of communities across our city, and assist fellow law enforcement agencies with access to our CLEAR system and by holding gang information sharing meetings."